Canada West at the U of L 2022

I popped over to the university this evening to watch the 2022 Canada West Swim Meet. I’ve been looking forward to this meet since I learned about it months ago. The University is hosting an alumni weekend for all former Pronghorns.

I’ll be the first to admit that watching a swim meet when you don’t know the swimmers can be a bit boring but today I was not disappointed. Within the first few races I watched, Lethbridge local Apollo Hess broke a Canadian record in the short-course 50 Breast with a time of 26.63.

Lethbridge's Apollo Hess shaved .02 seconds off his own Canadian Record in the 50 meter breaststroke (short course) at the Canada West Championships.
Lethbridge’s Apollo Hess shaved .02 seconds off his own Canadian Record in the 50 meter breaststroke (short course) at the Canada West Championships.

The rest of the alumni weekend is looking good too with tickets to the men’s and women’s basketball games as well an alumni party at the Zoo1. They’re having a draw for a couple of different prizes including a $500 WestJet voucher for one lucky Pronghorn. Wish me luck.

  1. The university pub[]
life swimming

Swimming Again

Over the summer I’ve gotten back into swimming. What’s been motivating me most is that I’m actually getting pretty fast again1.

I’m not as fast as when I was swimming for the Pronghorns but I’m feeling good about my progress. My best time this year is a kilometre in 16 minutes and 30 seconds (average speed of 24.75s per length). I’ve been using my Apple Watch to keep track of lengths and while I love that it tracks splits and distance, it seems to need a flip turn in order to register each complete 25m length.

I’m already below my goal of each 50m in 50 seconds but my ultimate goal is a kilometre in 16 minutes flat.

Update: I’ve got my time down to 16:20

  1. Or at least what I consider pretty fast for a 43 year old who was never particularly good at distance swimming.[]

Swimmers Go for Olympic Dreams at Canadian 2012 Trials

My friend and former roommate Richard Hortness is heading off to Montreal for the Olympic trials. He’s no longer living in Lethbridge but we wish him well. The Lethbridge club team has quite a few former swimmers also going to the meet, some of whom I’ve helped coach and/or shared the pool with. Here’s the news release from

Every four years, the Olympic Games stop the world. For a moment in time, the population across the globe, share in athletic glories, defeats, and Olympic stories. For 12 Lethbridge Swimmers, the dream of becoming an Olympian will be put to test in reality show called the Canadian Olympic 2012 Swimming Trials. The Trials will take place next week in Montreal, at the historic 1976 Montreal Olympic Pool. The pool is situated in Olympic Stadium, originally built for the 1976 Olympics and formerly home of the Montreal Expos.

For the Lethbridge contingent, the road to the Olympic Games began a decade ago. From initially jumping in the pool to learn four basic strokes fly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle, each athlete has worked to improve strength, endurance, speed, has refined stroke technique, has learned how to apply sport psychology, learned how to balance social and academics with athletics, and has paced up and down the pool several million kms. These athletes have raced on the national and international levels and have participated in training camps around the world, just to gain experience for this moment.

Through the process of diligent training, day to day, month to month, year to year these athletes have put themselves into contention. Competing at the Olympic Trials is comparable to making the NHL playoffs.

“The time is now,” says Head Coach Brad Mori. We have 12 qualified to compete at the Trials; Ryan Thornley, Kyle Troskot, Leah Troskot, Jeffrey Nicol, Rachel Nicol, Jessica Kelly, Kristy Gabruck, Mat Loyola, Matthew Mastromatteo, Tiha Konyves, David Errington, and Zack McAllister.

This is the largest contingent to ever represent Lethbridge at the Canadian Olympic Trials. “I think we are doing a good job of keeping kids engaged in the sport long enough for them to mature physically and mentally, they are able to realize their potential, and go about their day to day business more professionally. Swimmers are now hitting their prime in their mid to late twenties. Generally, the days of sending teenagers, with hormones and inconsistencies, to the Olympics Games is done. We are sending intelligent men and women, with a full set of tools.”

For Kyle Troskot, Zack McAllister, Jeffrey Nicol, and Rachel Nicol they will go into the meet with having experienced the Canadian Olympic Trials in 2008. “This is a different meet with different pressures than most competitions. For many swimmers their dream and career goal is on the line.” “It was the most exciting competition of my career” says Mori, who was a 1996 Olympic Trials Finalist and also competed at the 2000 Trials. “Having been in this moment 4 years ago, with the press and the hype, these kids will have the advantage of experience.”

Our top contenders will be Kyle Troskot, Rachel Nicol, and Zack McAllister. Both Kyle and Rachel are away at university this year, Kyle is at Texas A&M (2nd year) and Rachel as at Southern Methodist University (1st year). Zack is in his first year at University of Lethbridge and training with the Pronghorns. Both Kyle and Rachel will be fresh of performances at the NCAA championship. The fastest meet in the world should also provide added experience for the Olympic Trials next week. McAllister has had a great season, having competed at the Pan American Games in Mexico this past fall.

Pronghorns, Ryan Thornley, Jeffrey Nicol, and Jessica Kelly will be looking to crack the top 8 “A final”. “If you have a lane, you have a chance. Anything can happen. Every 4 years you see kids come out of the wood works, you see veterans come out of retirement for one last chance to make the team.”

To make the Canadian Team, swimmers must win or place second in the event and swim a time faster than the FINA “A” two per country time standard. Rachel Nicol has posted this standard previously, Kyle is itching closer. Zack will be competing for a spot on the Paralympic Team. “Unfortunately for Zack, we are still waiting on a classification appeal, and might not know if he has qualified until after the ruling has been made.”

The meet will run from March 27th to April 1st. Rogers Sportsnet will be covering the action live nightly from 7-8:00 pm Eastern time.

Update: Richard made the team! He’ll be competing for Canada in the 4×100 relay. As for the Lethbridge swimmers, there was a total of 39 personal best times with four swimmers making it into the finals—three placed in top eight.


New Personal Best

I swam a new personal best time for 1000m this afternoon. I did the whole thing in just 16:00. I never swam this fast (for long distances) even when I was with the Pronghorns. I can hardly wait for the alumni meet.

I wish I could say as much for my improvement in French. I’m learning, but it’s been tough.

friends swimming

Olympic Swim

As I’ve mentioned (many times to anyone that cares to listen) my former house-mate is Canada’s fastest swimmer in the 50m freestyle. This morning at around 4:30am local time he will be swimming in Beijing!

I saw Richard’s photo on Yahoo News (same photo here) and caught a couple clips of him swimming and on deck on the CBC a couple nights ago. (I also saw his roommate Jonas swimming tonight to—he competed in the 100m breast).

Here’s what Richard has to say on his blog the night before the big event.


U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials

Michael PhelpsI love the beautiful (and very large) images found at’s The Big Picture. Especially fun to see is the series from the recent US Olympic Trials where superman Michael Phelps broke another world record.

The Big Picture: Records Fall at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

friends swimming

Molly Sullivan Reports on NCAA Swimming

Molly Sullivan reports on the decision elite Canadian athletes swimming in the States have to make every four years when it comes time for Olympic trials. My friend and Olympian for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Richard Hortness, is featured in this piece that aired March 26.

[Molly Sullivan Reports on NCAA Swimming – YouTube]


Michael Phelps’ World Record Smashing Swim

During my prime of swimming for the University of Lethbridge, my fastest time for the 50 meter freestyle (short course) was 24.59. It’s fun and amazing to watch the world’s best swimmers going four times that distance (and long course too) at the same pace. Even if you’re not a swimming fan, one can’t help but get excited as Michael Phelps shatters a world record.

Phelps broke five world records, including the one above, during the World Swimming Championships last week in Australia. (They ended April 1).

The Washington Post has an interesting article stating that 60% of new swim records have been set in the last two years, while the records set in track-and-field on the other hand, have been much more steady.

The Post’s explanation of how athletes can be improving in leaps and bounds in one sport but not in another boil down to, more funding, better coaching, and an older average age of high caliber swimmers. They say the typical body shape of swimmers has also been changing as of late.

As an aside, a former roommate and teammate of mine competed at Nationals (the Canadian ones) during the same time and won both the 50 and 100 meter freestyle events a seriously awesome accomplishment (even though, it seems to me, he downplays it). Congratulations Richard.


Alumni Meet

I’ve got a University of Lethbridge Alumni swim meet tomorrow morning. Should be loads of fun—I can hardly wait, but I’m not too thrilled about being on deck at 7:20am—At least the events are only 25’s and 50’s.

life swimming

Swim Meet Announcing

If you’re wondering about how the announcing went… it started out a little rough and got better as the afternoon progressed. I was kind of nervous at first, just speaking into the mic and hearing my voice echo across the pool. The stands were pretty full and there were swimmers and officials all over the deck. I was sitting at a desk up in the stands. I welcomed everyone out and then I said, please stand for the playing of our national anthem.

And then it happened. Probably the most embarrassing thing possible. In my nervousness I didn’t even realize anything was wrong. I could hear my friend Vicki laughing from the pool deck and I had the sinking feeling she was laughing at me. The song played on. Then about 30 to 45 seconds into the song, Vicki walks out where I can see her and yells up to me, “Jeff that’s the American National anthem!” Could my face be any more red?

Apparently when queuing the music I rewound the tape on the wrong side. Now the decision had to be made, do I just play the rest of the song out and have the Canadian National Anthem play after, or do I stop it now and fast forward to the next song? I elected to stop the tape and just announce my mistake, “Oops, that was the American Anthem”. The people of laughed politely at my blunder but I was more worried that the meet would get started late because of my fumbling around with the tape player.

There I was trying to find the Canadian National Anthem on the tape meanwhile everyone else was just standing there, waiting for the music to play. Finally I realized I needed to flip the tape over and rewind it, and once that was on its way I used the moment to announce some of the money winners from the races yesterday.

I have to say, it was really embarrassing but things did pick up after that. I slaughtered quite a few names but by the end of the meet while I was still butchering their names, however, I just did it confidently and quickly so that most people probably didn’t notice hopefully didn’t care.

I’m glad I went; I had a good time. I’ll be doing the announcing for the finals again today.